Yesterday was Bell’s “Let’s Talk” day. Creating awareness for Mental Health and raising over 6 Million Dollars towards the cause. I was equally impressed and humbled by the amount of support for the cause I witnessed through social media. Nearly everyone sported the #bellletstalk hashtag, or the Bell profile picture, and at least half of those people also had a story to share. Whether it be your own, or someone else’s, there is absolutely no shame in suffering from a mental illness. Seeking help may be difficult, may even feel impossible or embarrassing to do so, but the world will come a long way if we learn to reach out when we need to. For those not inflicted by a mental illness, being supportive and understanding of those around you who are, makes all the difference in the world.
That being said, I also have a story to tell. Though I may not be brave enough to share every little detail, it doesn’t hurt to start somewhere.
For quite some time, I’d felt like something was wrong. It was a dark cloud, constantly sitting on my shoulder. It created a multitude of feelings that on any given day, didn’t seem to have a valid reason. It wouldn’t matter how beautiful a day, how easy of a week, or what amazing things could, or would, have happened – Every day felt like a chore, a struggle. Every morning, I’d wake up wishing to just stay asleep. Every interaction with people made me anxious, self conscious, tense. Every moment that should have been enjoyed with my whole heart, felt divided. Any less-than-ideal situation that transpired would be treated as though it was the worst possible outcome. I’d lost interest in things that used to be huge parts of my life. I spent each and every day feeling as if the world was out to get me. I felt alone, even when I wasn’t. I felt the depths of incredibly dark thoughts, and they weighed on me like a ton of bricks.
I felt embarrassed and ashamed of myself for how these thoughts and feelings consumed me. I was supposed to be a “man”. I was supposed to be strong, always. Provide. I was supposed to be happy-go-lucky all the time. “Men” don’t have issues, “men” don’t ask for help. So I did nothing. I let it eat away at me for too long. It reached a point where even when I thought I was projecting the image of a happy, satisfied individual, others could see the sadness and anger seeping out. It began affecting my relationships with everyone. I constantly felt misunderstood, unsupported, judged. Which in turn, just amplified the existing feelings buried in me, and worsened my relationships with people.
It wasn’t until I was hit with a collection of disheartening situations within the span of a year, that I finally broke. After several counts of abandonment and betrayal by “loved ones”, deaths in the family, financial hardship, and more, the weight of loss and struggle became too much. I broke. Like an old dam that had been holding in thousands of pounds of pressure, the waters filled with the deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings finally came crashing through to the surface. I stopped eating, stopped caring, stopped sleeping. My anxiety was so bad that I shook constantly. I could barely interact with society. And I no longer wanted to.
I wish I could say that I reached out for help right away, but it wouldn’t be honest. When you reach the bottom, there’s only one solution your brain can fathom – Ending your own existence. And I tried, more than once. Every minute, my thoughts were cluttered with “how can I do it”, “what’s the easiest way out”, “how do I escape”. It wasn’t until after several attempts, hospital stays and doctor visits that I finally knew, with the support of others, that I needed to get help. That I needed to ask for it.
So I did. And continue to ask for help when I need it. With the support of the ones who stayed in my life, with the support of the new people in my life, every day is a new day. There will always be a struggle, but it’s no longer a path walked alone or with an end. And I want to offer the same support to anyone who needs it.
Depression isn’t something that should be shrugged off or ignored. If you, or someone you know, is struggling from it, or exhibiting signs in any way, please don’t walk away. Don’t give up on a friend, a family member, a lover. More often than not, the people who seem to be pushing you away, are in fact the ones that could use the most love and support. An ear to listen and a voice to talk with makes all the difference in the world. Reach out, and you’d be surprised who reaches back.
So “Let’s Talk”. If you need someone to hear your story, your voice. I’m here and I’ll listen. And I’ll help in any way I can. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call me. Text me. Facebook message me. Let’s do this together.
Do you have a story you want to share here? Send it my way and I’ll post it for you, either anonymously or not, per your request.